Brands must work around Musk to succeed on Twitter/X

Social Trends, Uncategorized, X Insights

Pretty much everything Elon Musk has done to bend Twitter/X to his own personal vision in the last 18 months has been based on wrong-thinking and a fundamental misunderstanding of what made the platform so unique.

For good or for bad, the version of Twitter that Musk acquired in the fourth quarter of 2022 was the internet’s most switched on and vital platform. It’s where Presidents made policy and footballers argued with fans. For many it even replaced Google as their primary search engine.

Vitally, it was uniquely relevant. Not checking Twitter was missing out. You didn’t know what was going on at that exact moment. From a marketing point of view, it’s where great work got noticed. Other platforms were for straight advertising, Twitter was for brand fame.

Musk has tried to reverse that. Not only has he made ‘X’ an altogether more toxic and insidious experience but he has damaged the UX. The most switched on, cynical platform was never going to react positively to sponsored posts invading their timeline.

Paying for advertising on X has its own risks. To varying degrees, users on other social media platforms readily accept ads as standard. On X, users bristle. Brands – and even charities – are losing eyes forever as people block or mute any uninvited advertising.

That said, it would be folly for brands to ignore X. It’s still massively influential and relevant in spite of Musk’s meddling. The opportunities for fame and kudos are still there, but the trick is to work around Musk rather than necessarily with him.

Paying for eyes on your brand doesn’t work half as well as doing it for free. You just need your content to be plugged into and (ideally) be part of the culture. Get it right – through creativity, humour, authenticity and relevance – and the same users who resent being sold to will happily applaud and share your work.

As ever in marketing, every problem is an opportunity – and Musk is certainly a problem. Just don’t play his game. He may own Twitter/X but he clearly doesn’t get it. If you understand your brand and are fully plugged into social media culture, then well done, you know more about X than Musk. If Elon knows better than you, you’re in the wrong job.


Fabric Social, Team Member

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